I know this topic has probably been worn down but I have become completely overwhelmed with my research and all the choices out there.
My almost 5 yr old boxer has recently started shedding a concerning amount and is itching all over. He has a bit of dandruff and he has constant ear infections and subsequent scabs from itching his ears so much. I can see spots where his fur is uneven and his skin is starting to show because it is so thin. When we took him to the vet, she recommended oatmeal bathes, fish oil, and an antibac./anti-itch spray for his raw spots.
He has been on the same food since he was a puppy, Science Diet Lite for Large Breeds. I know it isn’t the most amazing food out there, but he tends to have a sensitive tummy and until now he has shown no signs of needing to change. My immediate response at this point is to try something new with his food. We are on a pretty strict budget, so I hate to spend double the amount we are already paying for his food, but I do not want to skimp when it comes to his health.
Any suggestions on where we can start, brand wise? TIA!
If the dog is really uncomfortable (suffering) I would make an appointment with a dermatologist/specialist. Has he been tested for environmental allergies (skin testing done by a dermatologist). That is where I would start…his symptoms may not have anything to do with food.
Here is one thread: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/help-7/ and another one: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/possible-food-allergies/
and another: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/im-at-wits-end/
and another: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/forums/topic/nutriscan-results-suggestions/
Best of luck.
Helpful article below:
By Klaus Loft, DVM
Angell Dermatology Service
Anyone who suffers debilitating environmental allergies tied to changing seasons, pet dander or household dust mites knows first-hand the misery of a scratchy throat, itchy eyes or painful rashes.
Not everyone knows, however, that our pets can experience similar allergic reactions — and other very bothersome dermatological issues. But our pets need not suffer in silence. Modern veterinary science has evolved such that advanced, comprehensive treatments are now available to treat a range of skin conditions.
Top pet dermatological issues
Our four-legged friends suffer from some of the same skin issues as we do — and several that we do not. The most common conditions we see at Angell include:
•Parasites, such as mites, fleas and mange (scabies)
•Infectious diseases, such as Staphylococcal pyoderma (“Staph”) skin infections, yeast and fungal infections and skin fold infections
•Systemic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases
•Skin cancer, such as Squamous cell carcinoma, cutaneous lymphoma, Mast cell tumors
•Allergies, such as flea allergy dermatitis, adverse food reactions, environmental allergies, etc.
All of these conditions can become serious and, if untreated, dramatically reduce quality of life. But the tremendous strides made in veterinary innovation, however, is very good news for our pets. Specifically, the testing and treatments for allergies now rivals human healthcare in its sophistication, quality of care and long-term health outcomes.
Unlike humans, dogs and cats cannot tell us about their dermatological health issues. So we as pet owners must look for the signs. The most common indicators that a pet is suffering from some kind of allergy involve frequent episodes of ear infections, red raised or open sores on the skin, constant licking or biting of paws or groin — sometimes causing wounds that will not go away.
Allergies present a particular challenge because there can be hundreds (even thousands) of potential allergens that impact pet health, from foods to pollen from grasses, weeds, trees, dust mites and more. Today’s specialty veterinary hospitals have access to the very latest diagnostic tests to get to the bottom of what’s ailing our pet. Among these tests is the Intra Dermal Test (IDT).
IDT is generally considered the gold standard of testing for identifying allergens that cause pets to suffer from chronic skin and/or ear diseases. IDT involves injections of a series of concentrated allergens into the skin to determine which of them generate allergic reactions in a given animal. The use of fluorescein — a chemical that illuminates the inflammation caused by the injected allergens in order to visualize the strength of individual reactions — is key to accurately diagnosing pet allergies, and is just one of the many ways veterinarians use new technologies to improve care and diagnostics.
The results of IDT (as well as a review of the pet’s medical history) can then inform comprehensive immunotherapy treatments to relieve suffering. Veterinary dermatologists rely on IDT to build customized treatment plans for patients called Allergen Specific Immuno Therapy or “ASIT” for short.
ASIT involves a series of injections specifically created for the allergic animal’s skin. These injections, of diluted allergens, are designed to make a pet less sensitive to their allergens over time. In most cases these injections must be continued for life to reduce symptoms, but they are highly effective. Seventy to 90 percent of pets experience a reduction in symptoms as a result of ASIT treatment. These treatments can be delivered even more easily via droplets under the tongue, perfect for pet owners who are squeamish about giving injections to their pet.
This treatment is very new to the North American field of medicine (both human and veterinary) and underscores just how far innovation in veterinary medicine has come.
When it’s time to see the vet
Many pet owners are understandably concerned about taking their animals to the veterinarian because the cost (to say nothing of the fear some animals experience when going do the doctor) may outweigh any perceived reduction in suffering. To help pet owners know when it’s time to bring Fido to the doctor I’ve compiled my “Top Ten” list of dermatological symptoms that should never be ignored:
•Intense itching of the skin (head shaking, running the face into the carpet, furniture, etc.)
•Biting at the skin that creates red, raw crusting areas of the skin
•Multiple ear infections (head shaking, odor from ears, scratching at the ears with hind legs)
•Paw licking or chewing and frequent infections of the skin in the webbed skin of the paws
•Staining of the fur of the paws and nails on multiple feet
•Reoccurring skin infections in the groin, under the shoulders, perianal areas (on or under the tail)
•Greasy scaling skin and/or fur with odorous skin
•Hair loss, or thinning of the fur
•Dark pigmentation of the skin that is chronically infected
•Sudden depigmentation of skin
Allergies and other dermatological issues can be as frustrating for pet owners and their veterinarians as they can be for pets. I encourage any pet owner whose animal is experiencing any of these symptoms to consult with their veterinarian.
Atopic dermatitis is a hypersensitivity or over-reaction to a variety of commonplace and otherwise harmless substances in the environment such as plant pollens, house dust mites or mold spores. Most pets with atopic dermatitis either inhale or absorb their allergens through their skin. Allergy tests are used to identify what a pet is allergic to in their environment.
There are two types of allergy tests, the intradermal allergy test and blood testing for allergies (serologic allergy testing). In an intradermal allergy test, the fur is clipped on one side of the chest and very small amounts of common allergens are injected into the skin. This test is very precise and is only performed by Veterinary Dermatology services. Because most pets with environmental allergies become exposed to their allergens through their skin, the intradermal allergy test may also best simulate a pet’s natural allergies. In a blood allergy test, a blood sample is obtained and submitted to a laboratory for testing.
If a pet is diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, there are three methods of therapy. The first method of therapy involves removing the allergen from the pet’s environment. Unfortunately, this is not possible in most cases. The second method of therapy involves the use of anti-itch drugs such as anti-histamines or steroids (cortisone). Some of these anti-itch medications do not work in every pet. Other pets develop side-effects from taking certain anti-itch medications.
The third method of therapy for atopic dermatitis (environmental allergies) is allergy injections. Other names for allergy injections include desensitization, hyposensitization, allergy vaccine, or allergen-specific immunotherapy. Immunotherapy involves a series of injections of diluted allergens. Over time, these injections make a pet less sensitive to their allergens and thus less allergic. Most pet owners are able to learn how to give the injections at home. When based on the results of intradermal allergy testing, immunotherapy helps manage the allergies in approximately 70-90% of pets. Most pets will respond to immunotherapy within 6-9 months, but some pets will require up to a year of immunotherapy injections before a full benefit can be noted.
And, the next time your veterinarian brings up vaccinations, I would ask if your dog is eligible for a waiver http://www.thedogplace.org/VACCINES/Rabies-exemption-form-states-2012.asp
Okay, I’m done.
I cant really diagnois what the issue would be, however i think making a change to his food is a really good start. You’re paying a premium price (50$ at Petco for the largest bag of the Large Breed Light) for corn, rice and by-products. I certainly think you could find a better food for that price or perhaps a little more that has better ingredients.
Not sure what your bugdet is so it would be hard to recommend a food for you.
The Large Breed Light falls under this rating.
A lot of people believe that their dog has a “sensitive stomach”. What a sensitive stomach actually is, is a lack of healthy bacteria in the gut which allow the dog to change brands and proteins frequently without digestive upset. Just like a human a dog should be able to eat any type of dog food (unless they have a known allergy to a certain protein or carb etc) and not have digestive upset at all.
The stomach becoming unable to adjust to diet change, is due to eating the same food for many years or even months.
My dog used to be the same way. If i did have to change his food and did it too fast, he would get diaherra for a few days. Since adding digestive supplements to his diet and a probiotic (i use kefir, you can use plain yogurt too) I have been able to switch what brand he eats every bag without blending his food and he has no diaherra at all. Quite a few people on this site are actually able to do that with their dogs too.
Just because you see no reason to change the dogs food, it doesnt mean your dog wouldnt enjoy variety in his diet. I highly doubt you would be happy eating chicken and rice for every meal of every day for the rest of your life. Your dog isnt happy doing that either.
Companies will tell you not to change your dogs diet. However its not because its in the best interest of your dogs health, its because they will keep you spending your money with their company. My dog eats a different brand every bag of kibble and a different canned food as well each meal. If i could afford to buy X amount of bags of kibble and change that every day I would do that too.
L M gave you some good advice about determining what the root cause of the itching and hair loss etc is, but diet is the foundation of good health, so starting there never hurts!
GL, keep us updated!
Thanks for the great responses! He isn’t suffering, more something I know should not be bothering him. Especially since it seems to be getting worse, I know there has to be something triggering it I can at least try to prevent.
I do know he has an allergy to grass and other common contact allergens, as sometimes he breaks out into a mild rash on his tummy and chest when he has been rolling around. We give him a Zytrec and it goes away in an hour or two. We have also had a few emergencies with his paws swelling up like sausages because of what the vet thinks are ant bites between his paws. I don’t really think we have an issue with ants- we have treated the yards as best we can, but there is only so much we can do when he is outside. I originally thought the first one was a bee sting it was that bad and came on that quickly, but it has happened multiple times since then. He licks and licks until it becomes infected and he’s unable to walk on that foot.
The past year he has been a mess medically and we are taking him to the vet about every other month for urgent issues. I am at a loss on where to start, as even our vet just thinks it’s contact dermatitis!
I am switching his brand of dog food ASAP, looking at a limited-ingredient grain free kibble. i am also going to add a fish oil to his diet to help his oil production and hopefully reduce some of the dandruff and shedding. This is just a start, but hopefully we will see progress soon.SusanParticipant
Hi, change his diet read the ingredients to his Science Diet, corn, gluten corn etc look for a limited ingredient kibble that’s low in starchy/carbs so NO potatoes, no peas etc ……..sounds like he has yeasty itchy skin & ears…join this face book group called “Dog Allergy International Group” (link at the end) & look in their files there’s links to limited ingredient kibbles wet & raw diets also foods that are starchy & what foods to avoid….If you can feed raw, raw is the best as it has no carbs.. carbs are needed in kibbles to bind them, no good for itchy dogs but you can find a better kibble then Science Diet also sardines, buy the tin sardines in spring water & add some with the kibble or as a treat..
Shampoo…..I use Malaseb medicated shampoo it kills any bacteria on the skin but does not dry their skin out, leaving them feeling beautiful & soft….
When I rescued my boy he was in very bad condition, a change of diet & weekly baths in Malaseb within 1 month his hair started to grow back & he was itch & smell free…
Hi Jordan L:
What did you treat your yard with?
Contact dermatitis is atopic dermatitis (described in the article above).
I got incorrect information from the regular vet, I know you want to minimize the symptoms and find a solution, food, medication, shampoos, supplements, dehumidifier, air purifier…..
That’s what I did too, if you read my posts, you’ll see that nothing worked until my dog saw the specialist and started allergy specific immunotherapy.
Most allergens are airborne, impossible to avoid.
Now she can roll around in the grass! Eat a variety of things, in fact she has cooked chicken several times a week.
It’s so frustrating to watch people go through this with their pets. They don’t want to spend the money to go to a specialist and yet they end up spending much more than that going back and forth to the regular vet and buying all kinds of things that don’t work.
Not to mention all the discomfort the dog goes through.
PS: The supplements and diet and frequent baths have their place, in fact I still bath my dog once a week with Malaseb or a GNC antifungal shampoo for dogs. But they are not strong enough (alone) the stop the symptoms.
Some good info here http://www.allergydogcentral.com/
Also, allergies get worse with age, not better. My dog is so much more relaxed now, it’s like a different personality. They can become snappy and neurotic with all that pruritus.
The symptoms you describe sound worse than what my dog had, and she was suffering.
The above are just my opinions based on my experience taking care of a atopic dog.
Of course only a vet that has examined your dog can diagnose and advise you how to proceed regarding treatment.
Best of luck.
Sorry if I went on a rant, all dogs are different, of course. What works for one may not work for another.InkedMarieMember
I’ve read that NutriSource is helpful with sensitive tummies & better quality than what you’re currently feeding.
I don’t think he is suffering or most of the time even bothered by it beyond the 20 second scratch every 30 minutes or so. But he is crated while we are at work, gets bored, and we can not curb his scratching. he has scratched his lips until he blisters or his underarms until they open and scab. Once his underarm became infected and we had to take him to the vet because there was so much yellow pus (most likely because he was bored and licked). We never let him come inside wet, we always wipe his paws and underarms if it is dewy or damp out to avoid moisture buildup. I do not think yeast is an issue, I think it is just dryness. His ears I do not know what is going on. He has been treated twice for an ear infection. We get rid of it, and a few weeks later it comes back. I am hoping this is just a symptom of his food or environmental allergy. We do our best to keep them cleaned and check them regularly for major issues, but they seem to be what bother him the most.
He does not have tummy issues beyond the normal boxer gas (every single boxer I have ever known has had this issue, regardless of their diet). He rarely gets an upset stomach, girggly tummy, or BM issues.
I am going to invest in some better medicated shampoo. We used to wash him in PhytoVet P Anti-Itch but I believe it was drying his skin out even more, so we switched to a generic oatmeal and it seems to relieve but only lasts so long.
I am leaning towards switching his kibble to a LI fish or other protein than chicken (his usual protein of choice).Vicki PMember
Hi Jordan – I’m just following your post. Sounds like our dogs have very similar issues. Matter of fact, it seems as if lots of dogs are experiencing really bad allergies… strange! We’ve been able to get our dog’s allergy issues controlled with benadryl, but I’m trying to wean my dog off of an rx dog food (you can find my recent posting here on that subject). So I’m just “listening in” on these conversations on this thread as well! 😉
Hi Vicki- good to hear I am not overthinking it and this is a real issue. My husband sometimes downplays it, but he has never owned an inside dog before and I have had quite a few. All had had different levels of itchiness/quirks, but I am trying to prevent Jack’s from getting worse while I see them developing. Benadryl makes him hyper, and he needs absolutely no help with that, so at the Dr.’s recommendation we give him a Zyrtec when he has a flare up or a mild reaction (non-emergency) to an ant bite or the grass. But we do not give him a daily dose at this point. I may talk to the dr. about that. Hopefully switching his food will be enough.
I feel that a change in food to something with less fillers and ingredients that are biologically inappropriate for a dog would help in other facets of your dogs life as well as some of the allergy symptoms, for example preventing weight gain and diabetes.
heres a video you might be interested in:
heres another discussing allergies:
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